Everything to Know About Fall Gardening

The growing season has come to an end, and you’re about to get busy in the garden. Let us check Fall Gardening.

Fall gardening
Autumn pumpkins in the garden in a box

Minimal planning and prepping can help you make your garden shine in the spring season.

Autumn is when you clean up your garden bed, manage the soil and minimize the problems for the upcoming season. It’s also when you can plant blooming bulbs!

But then comes fall.

With appropriate fall gardening prep – you can guarantee a bountiful and aesthetic garden for the next season. When people talk about a spring garden, they’re usually talking about the plants they can plant during the spring season.

When you’re starting your journey in the green world, there are many misconceptions you can fall for. For instance, if you hear people talking about a fall vegetable garden – it does not mean there are many vegetables you can plant in the fall.

Actually, there’s a limited number of true-fall planted vegetables. But rest assured – even these plants will satisfy all of your fall gardening urges. Most of the plants and vegetables that you’ll harvest in the fall are planted in the summer.

So if you’re considering growing your own fall garden this year – you’ve come to the right place! Not only do we plan to help you with some amazing fall gardening tips – but we also have news about plants you can harvest!

Why Should I Plant a Fall Garden in the Summer?

Good question!

There are some crucial reasons why you should plant your crops in mid-summer so they can be ready by fall.

Photosynthesis Works in Daylight Hours

fall gardening tips
Green leaves in daylight

During daylight hours, your plants get twice as much sunlight as they normally would.

But is this necessary?

Absolutely! When your plants photosynthesize for that long, they can produce twice as much sugar! These sugars help your plant sustain their growth. Because of this – at the time of harvesting, you get a much healthier plant.  

You should also remember that after the summer solstice, the length of the day will start to decline. Because of this, your plants will get lesser sunlight every day, which will result in slower growth. But then again – this also depends on where you live.

It might be possible that your plants have already lost crucial hours of daylight. That is why it’s necessary you stay on the look out for fall gardening tips during every phase of the season.

Soil Temperature and Air Temperature Go Hand-in-Hand

Even though some cold, tough vegetables can grow in soil temperatures like 40-85ºF, most plants grow well in temperatures close to 70ºF.

Because the temperature of the soil is following the air temperature, the soil temperature will drop as the air temperature drops.

This can put another dent in your fall gardening aspirations because here’s the kicker: plants grow slower in cool fall soil. They grow a lot faster in warm summer soil!

Temperature Fluctuations Can Increase Wind Currents

According to mother nature – because it’s something we can’t explain – fall has more volatile weather than summer.

If you go to sleep on a warm night, you might wake up to a cool morning. Because of these variations, there can be a lot of windy days. Just like an average human being – some plants enjoy the strong wind currents, while some do not.

For these plants, strong winds can often slow their growth and weaken their roots. A plant might get stressed, and because of this, it’ll be prone to diseases and pests. So before summer ends – take advantage of the tail end! Give your plants a good head, and your fall garden will be just as productive as your spring garden.

But even though we’ve given you some vital fall gardening tips – we haven’t yet told you how you can start your own fall garden. Here are some fall gardening tips that can help you start and sustain your own fall garden.

How to Start Your Own Fall Garden

Now, let us see how to start your own fall garden.

1. Preparing Garden Beds

If you’ve been growing plants in your garden, you’re in luck. A garden that has already been prepped for spring and summer crops will only need little fall gardening prep. With little maintenance, you’ll be ready to plant your fall crops in no time.

As we start to move into fall, the weather conditions start to get unpredictable. It is essential that your plants have access to all the nutrients they may need. The appropriate nutrients ensure that your plants mature at the right time. Before you decide to plant your crops, make sure that the soil you’re putting them in is stocked with nutrients.

It is essential that the soil is well-suited! There are a few ways you can do this:

  1. Check the pH levels of the soil. It should be appropriate for the plant you’re deciding to plant. If it isn’t appropriate, you can use fast-acting lime to raise the pH levels, or sulphur to lower the pH levels.
  2. With a home soil test kit, you can check the potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus levels of the soil. If necessary, you can use organic fertilizer. There are many you can choose from:
    1. Feather meal
    1. Bone meal
    1. Rock phosphate
    1. Worm castings
    1. Chicken manure
    1. Compost
    1. Natural amendments
  3. Before you plant your crops, dust the garden bed with granite or basalt. This can help you remineralize the soil.
  4. And finally, before you plant the seeds, water the soil deeply. This will integrate and activate the amendments you’ve made to the soil.

2. Find a Frost Date

Most plants don’t grow well in cold weather. That is why it is essential that your plants have fully grown before the cooler days start to set in. To do this, you’re going to have to determine which plant you should start to grow before it gets too late. There are various tools online that can help you calculate your frost date. 

This means you need to know the first average frost date. Knowing when the first frost date is likely to occur will help you in the plant selection you have to make. However, you will be glad to know that some plants can take some cold in the winter. They might be able to survive in temperatures below freezing point too!

However, frost can be a lot more damaging to your plants. Frost is moisture in the air that freezes on to your plants. Frost can kill your plants almost instantly – so make sure you’re vigilant. A frost date can also occur before the temperature is at freezing level. This is the reason many frost tables can have a probable frost date at 36ºF.

But if you want to be extra cautious, pick the 10% probability date. This can help you keep your plants safe a lot better.

Calculating the Right Date

Many of the cool-season crops you’re going to find are strong enough to keep growing through initial stages of frost. So, if you’re considering pushing your plant’s limits, try using different probability figures. Figures that give your plant a high rate of survival. You can also try using different temperature threshold frost dates. This will help you create different frost dates for all kinds of plants.

3. Different Fall and Winter Plant Varieties

Lettuce and cabbage are often called cool-season crops. But you should also know that there’s a big difference in the amount of cold weather each plant can tolerate. For example, cabbages that grow early are ideal if you want to start in early spring. These cabbages mature a lot quicker – even before the weather starts to get warm.

But as fall-crops, they aren’t too tough. Other cabbages like a ball-head Brunswick are a lot tougher. That is why, when you’re planting vegetable seeds, focus on the ones that are promoted for their fall and winter withstanding qualities.

Try not to focus on seeds of spring. They won’t give you the best results.

4. Plan Ahead for Fall-Vegetables

There are some fall-planted vegetables that you should be mindful of when you’re planning your harvest. Some of these fall-planted vegetables like hard-winter wheat, garlic and shallots grow fast in cool weather.

That is why it is best if you plant these vegetables during the fall. Try to plant them just a few weeks before the first frost. As the air temperature drops, so does the soil temperature. And when the soil temperature is down, these plants become latent.

Come early spring; they start growing again. These plants are usually ready for harvest in about early summer or late spring. Make sure you reserve some space in your garden bed for vegetables that you planted late.

If you haven’t done this, you can harvest some of your faster-maturing plants. This will help you make room for these few plants of fall.

5. Transplants

Depending on where you live, it might be possible you’ve missed the chance for planting seeds directly in the ground. But, to your relief, there are still ways you can grow plants. Check your local farmer markets and nurseries.

You’ll find winter and fall hardy plants that you can easily transplant in your area.

6. Protecting Your Plants

Many people use various methods to prolong the growing season beyond the frost date. But before you do this, it’s important you match the form of protection you’re using with the season you’re using it for. Your plants can need different types of protection in different environments.

Floating Row Covers

A floating row cover can save your plants from the frost that can settle on them and cause damage. However, floating row covers only increase the temperature around your plant by a few degrees. While they can be good protection from unexpected frosts – they won’t extend your plant’s life too much.

Cold-Frames and Hoop Structures

Hoops that are covered with plastic and cold frames can provide better protection than row covers. Not only do they protect your plant from frost, but they can also protect your plant from strong wind currents.

Additionally, a plastic hoop structure provides your plant with added heat on a sunny day. This will keep the soil around the plant warm enough so they can easily mature in the fall. But with that being said, a hoop structure can also limit the amount of sunlight your plant receives.

Overall, these structures can increase the growing season for your plant with the help of daylight and heat. They can also protect those plants that are ready to harvest and can attract many predators. Finally, they can also prevent the ground from freezing. This way, you can harvest cold-root vegetables longer.

Greenhouses or Hoop Houses

Greenhouse in daytime

Here’s a true solution that works every time.

With the help of a greenhouse – you can help your plants grow way past their first and last frost dates. To do this, you will have to grow your plants inside a structure through which you can regulate temperatures. The tools you can use to moderate temperatures can be:

  • Solar Heaters
  • Heat Sinks
  • Propane Burners
  • Large Water Tanks

By keeping the temperature close to 70ºF in the daytime, and evening temperatures close to 50ºF, your plants will be able to grow during fall too. But as the days get shorter, your plants will only grow to the amount of light they receive.

Depending on where you live, some additional light can also help your plants reach maturity in winter or fall.

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Now that you’re aware of so many useful fall gardening tips, what gardening activities do you plan to do in the fall? Are you planning something other than harvesting in your garden?

There are many exciting things you can do with your garden, but don’t get overwhelmed! Starting and perfecting the art of a fall garden can take time. Fall is the best time to start a big garden project, so don’t hesitate to take your garden to the next level.  A fall garden can ensure you eat fresh foods from your garden for a very long time. So if you’ve ever wanted to start a fall garden, now is the perfect time to start! I hope you got how to start a fall garden, happy gardening!